Hotel floor to bulletproof car - Norwich father's journey home from Kabul
- Credit: Contributed
A Norwich man who was able to escape from the Taliban-occupied city of Kabul is worried for the safety of his brother and mum who he had to leave behind.
Ashna Shinwari, 29, of Gas Hill, is currently isolating in a London hotel after being put on an evacuation military aircraft out of Afghanistan, returning to England on Sunday night.
The former City College student, who first moved to the UK in 2008, was contacted by the British embassy instructing him to go to a hotel in Kabul where British citizens and those who worked for the British were staying.
Having queued for five hours to get into the hotel, Mr Shinwari's British passport meant he was eventually taken to Kabul airport in a bulletproof car with two soldiers.
Mr Shinwari, who had flown to Afghanistan for a friend's funeral before the Taliban seized control, had been lying on the floor of the hotel with no Wi-Fi or food for 10 hours after being in a queue to show his documents for nine hours inside the hotel.
He said: "We were very scared in the car as there were lots of checkpoints. They [the Taliban] saw I had a little suitcase and knew I was heading to the airport.
"They were saying 'you are not allowed to go anywhere along this road and using language like 'you work for dirty people and that's why you run away from this country'.
"I was acting like a local man, I had grown my beard and was wearing normal clothes that Afghans wear all the way to Birmingham."
After getting to Kabul airport, Mr Shinwari was sat on the floor of a military plane on a three-hour flight to Dubai.
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From there, he had to wait a further 14 hours at the airport before being flown to Birmingham.
Those with British passports were then transported to London to quarantine in a hotel while those without were kept in Birmingham for further checks.
Speaking from his London hotel, Mr Shinwari said: "Last night [Monday] was the first proper sleep I have had for ages.
"I am worried for my brother and mum because when I spoke to the immigration officer at the hotel, he said he can't do anything for them and that I should speak to a solicitor back home.
"It is only those who work for the British army or British citizens who were allowed at the hotel."
Mr Shinwari had been staying at a friend's house in Kabul when the Taliban occupied the city, leaving him terrified and unable to leave the house most of the time.
Mr Shinwari said: "Family and friends were advising me not to go out and I was terrified of taking my phone or ID outside in case I was searched.
"People did not go out as they were scared the Taliban would shoot them."
Mr Shinwari, whose four-year-old son and girlfriend are in Norwich, had been dismayed to find out his Turkish Airlines flight home on August 10 had been cancelled, leaving him stranded in the capital city for nearly two weeks.
He recalled seeing the Taliban smash people's phones after they had taken photos in restricted areas of Kabul.
While in the Nangrahar province after the funeral, Mr Shinwari also saw blood on a car where two people had been shot for a flying an anti-Taliban flag.
"People do not have any hopes as they can see the Taliban has no plans or no leadership," Mr Shinwari said.
"Most of the people occupying higher posts have no education and the whole country is going back to square one.
"In Kabul, I saw a military car break down and they just left it on the main road just sitting there.
"Under the Taliban there is no future for that government but they have occupied everyone."